Money: Keep Your Identity Secure With a Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert

Tandemhow_to_freeze_your_credit_cardIf you’re like most UC Davis students, you will be getting a lot of credit card offers over the next few months. The biggest regret many students (as well as other folks) have is getting easy credit when they weren’t prepared for the consequences of it. With all the data breaches out there you may not be the only person who has ready access to your good credit. During this hot summer may we suggest that perhaps the best credit strategy is the  uncommon one of freezing your credit. As the Two Cents blog explains:

It’s uncommon for a reason. Namely, it’s inconvenient. A freeze restricts access to your credit report. This makes it impossible for a thief to take out lines of credit in your name, but it also makes it impossible for you to take out lines of credit until you “thaw” your report. If you’re planning to buy a home or take out a loan, you obviously want access to your credit report.

A freeze is a must if your social security number or other data has been compromised. But Forbes explains that it might be a smart preventive move, too.

Someone who isn’t looking to borrow money may want to freeze their credit for security purposes. A good candidate would be someone who owns their home or is a long-term renter who doesn’t plan on making a new car purchase or obtaining new credit cards in the near future.

The FTC explains that a freeze doesn’t affect your score. You can also still get your free annual credit report with a freeze. And keep in mind, while a freeze prevents new lines of credit, it doesn’t do anything to protect thieves from charging an existing line of credit, so it’s still worth monitoring your credit activity if you think your data is in danger.

To place a freeze, you’ll have to call each of the main credit bureaus:

Equifax — 1-800-349-9960

Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742

TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872

Fees vary by state, but the cost is usually $5 or $10. There’s a comparable fee for lifting the freeze, and those vary by state, too. Here’s a list of those fees by state.

Here are the freeze fees for California:

California ID Theft Victim Free Free Free Free Free
Non-Victim $10 $10 $10 $10 $10
65 years of age or older $5 $5 $5 $5 $5
If you are a victim of identity theft and you submit or have previously submitted a copy of a valid police report or valid Department of Motor Vehicles investigative report that alleges a violation of Section 530.5 of the Penal Code, no fees will be charged to place a security freeze on your Equifax credit file, temporarily lift the security freeze for a specific party or specific period of time, to permanently remove the security freeze from your Equifax credit file, or for a replacement 10-digit PIN.

Source: Keep Your Identity Secure With a Credit Freeze or Fraud Alert